Oak Bay: Spotlight on Living
Living in Oak Bay
Oak Bay, historically named after the many Garry Oak trees populating the area, is a highly sought-after neighbourhood in Greater Victoria. Away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Victoria, this well-established region consists of multiple suburbs and thrives as its own community. Offering beaches, restaurants, schools, and more, the Oak Bay neighbourhood booms with culture and society attracting a variety of residents to find their forever homes.
Oak Bay Amenities
There are many self-sufficient areas in Victoria, however this one does an exceptional job providing its residents with everything from necessities to desires. The variety in this region is outstanding, whether you are a student, young family, or retired citizen, Oak Bay caters to diverse demographics. The heart of this vibrant community is considered to be the Oak Bay Village. There are many local businesses to visit in the village and while walking down the avenue you will feel the warmth of the neighbourhood. Some of our favourite spots to stop are Hide & Seek Coffee for a tasty cappuccino or Good Earth Coffeehouse for a unique rooibos latte, the Penny Farthing pub for a drink with some friends or just next door at Vis a Vis for delicious French cuisine, Discovery Coffee for some local Yonni’s Doughnuts and COBS Bread Bakery for a yummy pastry. The hardest part is choosing where to go!
The beauty of this neighbourhood is how the combination of beaches, parks, lookouts, and trails are effortlessly integrated between homes and villages. You can sit on the popular Willows Beach, one of the longest beaches in Victoria, with the sand between your toes admiring views of Mt. Baker in the distance. You can drive the scenic coast along Dallas Road; from the Uplands suburb, past many beaches, between fairways of the Victoria Golf Club, and around the edge of Vancouver Island to the see the views from King George’s Terrace. You can wander through various streets and find hidden gems, like Demitasse a local family business blending a café & garden centre together, or Bowker Creek that secretly winds around back roads to provide a quiet place to walk your dog, or The Village on Estevan Avenue for some delicious all-day breakfast.
The sense of community in this particular neighbourhood is strong. There are many annual events that occur on the avenue, including seasonal events where people from all over Victoria come to join in the celebrations. The night market during the summer months fills the avenue to support local businesses, the Oak Bay Half Marathon is a popular race in the Spring where people of all ages come to participate, the Oak Bay Tea Party held at Willows Beach to kick off summer while raising funds for service organizations in the community, and more. The most recent event we had the opportunity to enjoy was the Oak Bay Light Up, a festival where the community comes together to watch the avenue’s Christmas lights turn on and begin the holiday season.
While there are many historic homes in this neighbourhood, new developments pop up to keep the residential variety Oak Bay prides itself on. Some of the latest properties include the Maddison and the Bowker Collection, both introducing modern elements into the traditional styled community. In addition, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel offers private residences, featuring an ideal oceanside location that’s walkable distance to the Oak Bay Marina, Victoria Golf Club, the village, and more! Whether you’re looking for a heritage character home or a modern condo, settling here offers it all!
For more information on all that Oak Bay and the Gonzales districts have to offer, check out our neighbourhood guide here.
100+ Little Known Facts about Oak Bay*
*The following content created and generously shared for posting here by Gary Wilcox
Did you know . . .
1. that Bowker Creek was once a spawning ground for salmon?
2. that a large Indian village — Sitchanalth — flourished at the mouth of Bowker Creek 2600 years ago?
3. that Oak Bay was first seen by Europeans in 1790 when the Spanish sailed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and noted Gonzales Hill?
4. that the first whites to live in this area were Hudson’s Bay Company employees involved with the building of Fort Victoria in 1843?
5. that Oak Bay’s oldest road — Cadboro Bay Road — was originally a wagon trail from Fort Victoria to the HBC farm in Cadboro Bay?
6. that Oak Bay land was purchased from the aboriginals in 1850 for the price of a few blankets?
7. that Tod Road was originally the access road from Cadboro Bay Road to the house of John Tod, Oak Bay’s first landowner and homeowner?
8. that Tod Road is Oak Bay’s second-oldest road?
9. that Bowker Creek was once called Tod’s Stream?
10. that John Tod’s house — Oak Bay House — was built in 1851 and is probably the oldest house west of the Great Lakes?
11. that the first manager of the HBC’s Cadboro Bay Farm, Charles Bayley, is the only person in Oak Bay known to have been attacked by Indians, an incident that happened in 1854?
12. that by 1858 five HBC landowners laid claim to all of Oak Bay?
13. that Oak Bay’s first commercial establishment — the Willows Hotel, built in in 1864 — was a pub?
14. that Oak Bay’s first school (one-room) was built in 1885 at Lansdowne and Cadboro Bay Roads?
15. that a racetrack — the Driving Park — was built in the Carnarvon Park area in the 1880s?
16. that a magnificent exhibition hall was built adjoining the racetrack in 1891?
17. that all streets on the Lansdowne slope have a “downe” suffix in deference to the racetrack heritage of the Carnarvon Park area, as this term is associated with horse racing in names such as Churchill Downs, Epsom Downs and, locally, Sandown Park and Fraser Downs in Surrey?
18. that Oak Bay’s first unique attraction for day-trippers and settlers was the view of Mount Baker?
19. that the Mount Baker Hotel, built in Oak Bay in 1893, was Victoria’s finest hotel?
20. that the Victoria Golf Club, established in 1893, is the second-oldest club in North America to remain on its original site?
21. that Oak Bay Park (Windsor Park) was built in 1895 to encourage ridership on the streetcar line to Oak Bay?
22. that Oak Bay’s second school (one-room) was built in 1895 on Foul Bay Road?
23. that the historic voyage of the “Tilikum” set sail in 1901 from Oak Bay?
24. that the Chinese Cemetery built at Harling Point in 1903 (now a National Historic Site) is the oldest cemetery in Canada designed on the principles of Feng Shui?
25. that in 1906 Oak Bay had 243 landowners?
26. that Oak Bay landowners petitioned to become a municipality in 1906 after the City of Victoria refused to extend its eastern boundary to include Oak Bay and provide basic services?
27. that Oak Bay’s first council in 1906 was self-proclaimed “without the expense and annoyance of an election”?
28. that Oak Bay experienced a building boom starting in 1910 that saw much development?
29. that the Patrick Arena was built at Cadboro Bay Road and Epworth Street in 1911?
30. that St. Mary’s Anglican Church was built in 1911?
31. that bylaws were passed in 1911 to control dogs and bicycle riders?
32. that the first ice hockey game played on artificial ice in Canada was played in Oak Bay on January 3, 1912?
33. that Oak Bay’s first municipal hall was built in 1912 at the corner of Oak Bay Avenue and Hampshire Road?
34. that Oak Bay’s first high school was built in 1912 on the site of today’s municipal hall?
35. that Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and the monastery for the Sisters of the Poor Clare Order were built in 1912?
36. that the Uplands Golf Club (at first called the Municipal Golf Club) started in 1912?
37. that the Uplands subdivision opened for sales in 1912?
38. that the Royal Victoria Yacht Club re-located to the Uplands in 1913?
39. that the Hampshire Road Methodist Church was built in 1913?
40. that three and a half acres of land was purchased for Willows Park in 1913?
41. that St. Christopher’s private school started in 1913?
42. that the Willows School annex was built in 1913?
43. that in 1913 Victoria’s first motion picture theatre — the Avenue Theatre — was built in Oak Bay, and that this building is still standing?
44. that Monterey School was built in 1914?
45. that the St. Columba Presbyterian Church was built at Granite and Mitchell Streets in 1914?
46. that St. Michael’s private school for boys started in 1914?
47. that the Bowker Creek ravine beside the firehall became the municipal garbage dump in 1914?
48. that Oak Bay’s building boom came to an abrupt end with the onset of World War I?
49. that a severe snowstorm hit Oak Bay in 1916 leaving many residents in dire straits until the Navy came to the rescue with sacks of coal for heating?
50. that vacant lots, and even Willows Park, were used to grow potatoes and beans to feed needy families?
51. that the original parish hall for St. Mary’s church (St. Mary’s Memorial Hall) was built in 1919/20?
52. that Willows School was built in 1920?
53. that the rule of the road changed in 1921 requiring motorists to now drive on the right hand side of the road and pass vehicles on the left side of said vehicle?
54. that Burdick Avenue was being used as a municipal gravel pit in 1922 to supply material for roadwork?
55. that a bylaw was passed in 1923 banning pigs in the municipality except in farmland north of the fairgrounds?
56. that in 1923 Oak Bay was classified as a “Country Village”?
57. that by 1924 almost 500 lots had been forfeited to the municipality because of taxes and that these lots were sold to a consortium of Victoria realtors known as The Oak Bay Land Co.?
58. that the 1925 Stanley Cup was won in Oak Bay when the Victoria Cougars beat the Montreal Canadiens?
59. that Oak Bay Presbyterians and Methodists merged in 1926 to form the Oak Bay United Church?
60. that Council decided in 1927 to use the former gravel pit on Burdick Avenue as a garbage dump until filled?
61. that construction began on the Oak Bay Beach Hotel in 1927 despite protests and a petition presented to Council?
62. that in an attempt to simplify mail delivery, a Council initiative in 1927 to change St. Ann Street to Monterey Avenue was discouraged by one dissenting resident?
63. that in 1928 Oak Bay had a population of 5,447?
64. that Oak Bay High School was built in 1929?
65. that the garbage dump at Monterey Crescent was closed in 1929 when the Municipality contracted this service to the City?
66. that Mary Tod Island was bequeathed to the Municipality in 1929?
67. that the Patrick Arena was destroyed by fire in 1929?
68. that with the onset of the Depression, Council was constantly seeking funds to create make-work projects to keep residents from starving?
69. that Glenlyon private school for boys started in 1932?
70. that Council cancelled its agreement with The Oak Bay Land Co. in 1933 as the consortium had sold 205 lots but returned 281?
71. that the Oak Bay Theatre was built in 1936?
72. that the local firehall was built in 1938?
73. that a community swimming pool was being considered in 1939 to be located either in the Uplands, at Willows Beach, or adjacent to the Oak Bay Boathouse? That the local community pool today is at Recreation Oak Bay?
74. that May 30, 1939 was called “Gala Day” when Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Oak Bay to strengthen loyalties to the homeland prior to Britain’s declaration of war against Germany on September 3, 1939? (Canada declared war on Germany on September 10, 1939)
75. that the firehall flagpole was erected in June, 1939 as a show of solidarity following the Royal Visit?That the former horse show building on the Willows fairgrounds was converted to a ice skating rink in 1941 by Barney Olson?
76. that in 1941 men from the RCAF base at Patricia Bay received firefighting training at the firehall?
77. that by 1942 the Municipality had 450 forfeited lots, many of which were used as Victory Gardens to help relieve the local food situation?
78. that a fuel shortage in 1943 necessitated the cutting of trees in the municipality?
79. that the Olsen Arena was destroyed by fire in 1944?
80. that in 1946 the 65 acres that would become Uplands Park was acquired by the municipality in lieu of back taxes owed by The Uplands Ltd.?
81. that the Tea Room Pavilion at Willows Park, built by the Oak Bay Kiwanis Club, opened in 1947?
82. that in 1947 Oak Bay became the first municipality in the province to use luminous stop signs?
83. that Council resolved in 1948 to provide the Assistant Building Inspector with a bicycle to attend his duties throughout the municipality?
84. that the main building at the fairgrounds was destroyed by fire in 1948?
85. that the Oak Bay War Memorial in Uplands Park was built in 1948 and unveiled at the inaugural memorial service held on November 11, 1948?
86. that heavy rains in January, 1949, flooded many basements throughout the municipality, including the basement of the Municipal Hall where many legal and historic documents were destroyed?
87. that the Carley Riding Academy moved from the former fairgrounds to a new site on Cedar Hill Cross Road in 1949?
88. that the ratepayer associations from both Gordon Head and the Saanich Panhandle petitioned Oak Bay in 1950 for amalgamation with Oak Bay?
89. that Oak Bay Junior High School was built in 1951?
90. that a B&K store was built on the empty lot at the corner of Oak Bay Avenue and Hampshire Road in 1953?
91. that the Model Flying Club was prohibited from using the High School grounds in 1953 because one resident complained?
92. that areas of Oak Bay suffered severe flooding in 1955, especially immediately south of the Lansdowne slope and in the Central Park area?
93. that Carnarvon Park officially opened in 1955, and was built at no cost to the taxpayers because of a surplus of funds from the sale of lots in the new subdivision?
94. that the bowling green at Carnarvon Park was built in 1956?
95. that on July 2, 1956, this municipality celebrated its Golden Jubilee?
96. that the new Municipal Hall was built in 1958?
97. that property was purchased by the municipality to enlarge the parking area at Willows Park in 1959 rather that allow an apartment block to be built there?
98. that the breakwater at Turkey Head was built in 1959?
99. that St. Patrick’s church was built in 1960 and the former Our Lady of Lourdes church became the private chapel of the Poor Clare Sisters that Council purchased property and dwellings at Haynes Point in 1961 and cleared the site to create Haynes Park?
100. that the scenic drive at Cattle Point was completed in 1961?
101. that the old boathouse was demolished in 1962 when the marina was built on this site?
102. that the first Oak Bay Tea Party in 1962 was in celebration of the City of Victoria’s centennial?
*Content created and generously shared for posting here by Gary Wilcox: http://www.webturf.com/oakbay/history/
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